Water Treatment Equipment Grows in Food and Beverage Industry

The food processing industry includes: fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish, grain mill and bakery products, sugar and confectionery products, fats and oils, and frozen, packaged, and convenience foods. The industry is a large user water. As a result, opportunities for water and wastewater treatment are numerous.

The most common water impurities in the food processing industry that need removal are suspended solids, microorganisms, organic matter, color, taste, and odor. Food industry effluents are generally high in BOD as well as SS.

These effluents are treated with biological methods as a primary treatment.

Other contaminants of food-processing wastewater, particularly from meat, poultry and seafood processing facilities, are pathogenic organisms. Wastewater with high pathogen levels must be disinfected prior to discharge. Typically, chlorine (free or combined) is used as a disinfectant. Ozone, UV radiation, and other nontraditional disinfection processes have steadily gained acceptance due to stricter regulations on the amount of residual chlorine levels in discharged wastewater.

Despite the mature nature of the food and beverage industry, the sale of water treatment equipment has grown from about $200 MM in 2000 to nearly $325 MM in 2008 with growth of 6-7% annually. Regulation and legislative compliance are driving the upgrade of technology in this sector since growth of the underlying market is not very high.

Ozone has played an increasingly important role in this industry since ozone is an outstanding disinfectant, has a short lived residual and is FDA approved for such use.

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Highland Water Company Treats Taste and Odor Problems with Ozone

Clear Lake, a water source for Lake County, CA, is a nutrient rich body of water that is plagued by algae blooms that create serious taste and odor problems with the water. This is a situation that affects many communities drawing water from reservoirs and lakes with algae.

Some water companies treating water from this area are more successful than others in making the water palatable. The Highland Water company draws water with high turbidity from the lake and treats it with a multi step process. At the end, the turbidity is well below the state requirements for drinking water.

Ken Price, a resident said that, “Highlands Water Co. is where we get our water from and I find it drinkable.”

There are several steps employed by Highland in treating the water. It is treated with ozone and then passed through a clarifier followed by carbon filters. Ozone is often used for taste and odor control applications, especially where the cause is algae blooms.

Some of the largest applications in the US for ozone are for taste and odor control in drinking water. The drinking water plants in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas are very large users of ozone for this application. These plants get their water from a reservoir system that is subject to algae problems in the summer. Ozone has effectively solved the taste and odor problems here as well.

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Ozone for Emmissions Reduction in Diesel Engines

We came across a very unique application for ozone for emission reduction in diesel engines. While it is outside of the main stream use of ozone, it is a very clever application of the molecule. Diesel engines are plagued with emission problems associated with the release of particulates from incomplete combustion of the diesel fuel. The new ozone concept: Use a spark in the air intake to create ozone gas, which oxidizes the fuel more thoroughly. This is the idea behind a new start-up company, the Pomona (Kan.), Emission Control Solutions.

Emission Control is still at the development stage, but independent laboratory tests have demonstrated big reductions in tailpipe particulates. The company is convinced that their ozone generator, dubbed the Radiant Halo 7, will be an important development in the diesel industry.

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National Aviary Uses Ozone for Penguin Exhibit

The National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. Located in West Park on Pittsburgh’s historic North Side, the National Aviary’s diverse collection comprises more than 500 birds from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild. The National Aviary’s large walk-through exhibits create an experience unlike any other – an intimate, up-close interaction between visitors and free-flying birds, including opportunities to hand-feed and meet many species rarely found in zoos anywhere else in the world.

Penguin Point, the Aviary’s new 2,300 square-foot African penguin exhibit, opened May 23, 2009, providing penguin fans a great opportunity to get close to these remarkable birds.

The new exhibit affords 360-degree views of African penguins swimming, playing, nesting and scaling rocks in an open-air space. A wheelchair accessible Kids ViewTube under the exhibit offers underwater views of the penguins as they dive, swim and “fly” through the pool, while domed bubbles allow young guests the chance to pop up in the middle of the penguin group.

Ozone water treatment is employed in this exhibit to keep the water free of pathogens and maintain a high degree of water clarity. Ozone is used in many aquariums, mammal pools and similar facilities to protect animals and improve guests ability to see and enjoy the exhibits. Ozone is produced on site and injected into the water under carefully controlled conditions.

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Virginia Aquarium Upgrades with Ozone

The Virginia Beach aquarium displays the regions aquatic life found in the ocean, bay and tidal basins. currently the aquarium is undergoing a significant renovation expected to be completed this fall. The renovation includes a significant increase in the number of aquatic animals displayed as well as a large increase the the volume of water to be treated.

As with many aquariums around the world, ozone is an important part of the treatment process for the water. Ozone removes bacteria, virus and color from the water. It also enhances filtration. As a result the water is extremely clear. This in turn makes the viewing experience for the guests of the aquarium better.

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Reduction in Wastewater Plant Sludge Production with Ozone

An emerging application for ozone use in wastewater treatment is the reduction of sludge generation from the activated sludge plants. Sewage plants must dispose of their excess sludge. To do so, additional processing of the sludge is required including filtration and dewatering. In some cases, the sludge must be disposed of in landfills where the plant operator must pay for hauling and disposal costs. Eliminating this excess sludge can be economically interesting depending if the amount of ozone per ton of sludge removed is low enough.

In this process ozone is fed into a side stream of sludge that is be recycled back to the activated sludge tanks. The ozone attacks the cell walls of the bacteria that make up the activated sludge causing the cells to undergo lysis. Lysis is a process where the cellular wall is breached and the internal materials leak out of the cell.

In the activated sludge process this leaked material, or cellular COD, goes back to the activated sludge tank where other bacteria consume the COD. As it turns out this material is very biodegradable. Essentially, the ozone damages certain sludge bacteria so they can be consumed by the rest of the biomass.

This process has been studied extensively and found to work with up to a 60% reduction in excess sludge. Other benefits of the process that have been observed include: elimination of foaming problems, reduction in bulking, improvement in dewatering, improvements in settling and improvement in effluent quality.

Ozone is already used at some sewage treatment plants for disinfection of treated effluent. In this application it has the benefits of improved disinfection, reductions in disinfection byproduct and increasing the oxygen content of the water. Extension of ozone to the activated sludge process may further improve wastewater treatment plant economics and performance.

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